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Neurologic Effects of COVID-19

COVID-19 has changed life as we know it. The pandemic has affected so many lives and continues to do so. I have seen first-hand the potential devastating effects of this infection as a neurologist practicing in the outpatient and inpatient settings.

Two new research studies have looked into the neurologic manifestations of COVID-19 infections. One article1 states that the virus enters the lung causing inflammation and oxidative stress. This also then leads to platelet activation and aggregation, which can then lead to clot formation in the body. This is why COVID-19 has been associated with strokes and pulmonary emboli. The second article2 describes a more wide array of neurologic manifestations in these patients. The most common symptoms are malaise, dizziness, and headache. These symptoms can be seen in up to 30 percent of COVID-19 patients. More severe neurologic complications can occur, most frequently in more severe cases, including ischemic stroke and encephalopathy. To date, there is no clear evidence that the virus itself will infect and infiltrate neurons directly. The neurologic manifestations are more from systemic effects of the virus on the body. However, we do not yet know if there is direct brain invasion or if the brain contributes through immune dysregulation and respiratory failure. “Even if you have a mild infection… there could be long-term neuropsychiatric effects that range from anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, and depression, to cognitive impairments,” according to the authors.

As the above articles also note, many other physicians have noted that COVID-19 affects the CNS in two main ways – direct effect with inflammation or blood clotting mechanisms. According to Dr. Adnan Qureshi, MD3, “it’s unclear whether there is any treatment except for a therapy that can suppress the excessive inflammation” and controlling cardiovascular risk factors. Inflammation appears to be one of the key ways this virus adversely affects the body.

As a practicing neurologist, I frequently focus on the neurological aspects of a disease or a patient’s symptoms. However, with COVID-19, focusing solely on the neurological manifestations may not be enough. There is a whole body effect that must be taken into account. Inflammation may start in the lungs, but then it has systemic effects and triggers a widespread cascade of events that can be harmful to the body. In addition, people who are not directly infected by COVID-19 can have symptoms including depression, anxiety, and PTSD. The pandemic is nothing like anything any of us have ever seen.

Obviously, the best treatment for COVID-19 infection is to avoid infection in the first place. According to the CDC4, everyone should wash hands often, avoid close contact, cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others, cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow, clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily, and monitor your health daily looking for fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc.

In addition to the above, anything you can do to balance and boost your immune system can help. According to an article by the Cleveland Clinic5, you can strengthen your immune system with four simple strategies. These include focusing on healthy foods that include vitamin C and antioxidants, lifestyle improvements including sleep and exercise, having a positive mindset, and natural immunity aids including vitamins C and D as well as glutathione. StrIVeMD Wellness & Ketamine can help. Our Immunity boosting intravenous infusion can help with providing direct IV infusions of B, C, and D vitamins, in addition we can supply your body with one of the strongest antioxidants known, glutathione. By receiving this infusion, sleeping well, exercising, eating healthy, and having a positive mindset, you are doing all you can for the health of your body, especially needed during this pandemic.

Now that you’re doing what you can for your physical body, you must also think about the neuropsychiatric effects of these stressful times, including depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Whether directly from inflammation due to the virus or due to worry about getting the infection or the financial sequelae and social isolation of the lockdown, the psychiatric effects are immense. If you need help, obviously work with your doctor and/or see a mental health provider. When this is not enough, ketamine has shown benefit with refractory depression, anxiety, and PTSD. According to the American Society of Ketamine Physicians6, cases of depression and anxiety are above what was even expected during the on-going pandemic. This is seen in all age ranges from adolescents to adults. But the good news is that there is robust evidence showing the rapid and effective response of ketamine for treating depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Do not suffer in silence. Get the help you need.

StrIVeMD Wellness & Ketamine is a multidisciplinary team of board-certified adult and pediatric anesthesiologists, pain physicians, neurologists, pediatricians, and functional medicine physicians that bring a comprehensive and individualized approach to health and wellness, specializing in medical intravenous infusion and Ketamine therapy. We are the number one provider of adolescent ketamine therapy in this area. Do not let your loved ones suffer in silence, especially when there is such an effective treatment available in ketamine infusions. Call us at 847-213-0990 with any questions or to set up your consultation today.

  1. Janardhan V, Janardhan V, Kalousek V. COVID-19 as a blood clotting disorder masquerading as a respiratory illness: A cerebrovascular perspective and therapeutic implications for stroke thrombectomy. J Neuroimaging 2020; Epub 2020 Aug 10.
  2. Iadecola C, Anrather J, Kamel H. Effects of COVID-19 on the nervous system. Cell 2020; S0092-8674(20):31070-31079.
  3. Qureshi A, Abd-Allah F, Al-Senani F, et al. Management of acute ischemic stroke in patients with COVID-19 infection: Report of an international panel. Int J Stroke 2020; 15(5):540-554.

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